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First Apple Academy graduation held in downtown Detroit

Posted at 6:15 PM, Jun 30, 2022

A life-changing, 10-month journey is culminating in a huge celebration for graduates of the only Apple Developer Academy in North America. Based in downtown Detroit, the special program opened doors of opportunity for people of diverse communities.

Thursday, a proud moment happened at Michigan State University between Apple and the Gilbert Family Foundation as the first Apple Developer Academy held its graduation.

“It’s almost like a dream or goal you wanted to accomplish. I finally got to accomplish it and be a part of Apple,” graduate Charles Walker said.

This moment marked a turning point for him.

“Just being able to develop apps, be a part of Apple and MSU was a great opportunity,” Walker said.

Walker, who comes from the airline industry, is one of 90 students graduating from the free program that teaches technology skills and application development.

“It’s not like a normal boot camp with a book and curriculum. With challenged based learning, you have to ask questions and ask more questions,” graduate Naeema Muhammad said.

The class ranges in age from 18 to 64.

“Whether they are interested in the tech industry in general, coding, design, business, they really can decide what they want to do next. I am very proud of all the students. Nine months ago, none of them could look me in the eyes and just pitch their ideas.” Director Dr. Sarah Gretter said.

Among the things organizers say make the program stand out, participants did not have to have a prior coding background. They are now coming away with new skills and bonds being formed along a path to success.

“I’ve enjoyed meeting many of today’s graduates in visits since last fall. I understand I might see at least one of you this fall at MSU. Paul Campbell entering the college of engineering,” MSU President Dr. Samuel Stanley said.

Adding to that, graduate Emeline King told us, “I was able to create an app called Kids Can, it introduces kids to transportation design.”

Another success story comes from a local pastor.

“I’m the senior statesman in the class. I tell everybody I’m 117, but what stuck out to me was with the help of mentors, I was able to write a tech article and have it published.” graduate Jerome Warfield said.

For more information on how to apply for the academy, visit

This story was originally published by Simon Shaykhet of WXYZin Detroit, Michigan.